Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Week of Miracles

Our week began as almost every other week begins out here in the Mississippi Jackson mission - with a plethora of tracting. As August has begun to draw to a close, so has the unbearable humidity. Because of that, tracting wasn't as difficult as it normally is. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to go door to door at some apartments in Bay Saint Louis. The beginning was rough - no one answered and when they did, it was just a door slam. We even had a little old man with a bright white beard yell at us, "I'm sick of you Mormons! Don't come back!" I actually found that pretty hilarious as we walked away, as we had never been to his door before. Before we knew it, the two hours we had set aside for tracting was up and we were about to take off to visit the Turfitts and their new child when all of a sudden a voice came into both of our heads, telling us to tract this last little area.
Of course, we weren't about to ignore a prompting from the Spirit. We began to knock on doors and after 10 minutes, we began to wonder why on Earth were we supposed to keep going. No one was answering or being particularly receptive. And then, we met Sam. He answered the door and looked like a deer in the headlights. As we gave him the spiel, he just nodded his head and said that he'd take the Book of Mormon and read and pray. I gave him the book, doubtful that he'd actually do so, and went on my way. His next door neighbor, Domonic, was the next person to answer the door to us. As we talked with him, he told us that he had been recently searching for a church, because none of them seemed right. He said that every church he has been to didn't give him the right feelings, that it didn't make him feel the spirit. 
The moment he said that, my heart soared. I then began to tell him about the restored gospel and how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church here on Earth today and that it is exactly the same church the Jesus set up two millennia ago. Domonic's eyes lit up and then he dashed off to grab his Bible. We then started showing him verses that correlated with the Church and showed him how our Church is God's kingdom here on Earth today. He hungerily took the Book of Mormon and said we could come back the very next day and teach him more. 
Wednesday came before we knew it. Before we left to see Domonic, we set out to see Sue, one of our other investigators. She had been set with a baptizimal date, but had recently fallen out of contact with us when her ex-husband came back into town. We had been very concerned about her for awhile, and decided that it was time to stop by and see what was going on. When we knocked on the door, no one answered. Sister Jones and I then sat outside for a long while, determined to see Sue. After basking in the heat for about thirty minutes, we finally came to the conclusion that she had either been evicted or wasn't coming home any time soon. Before leaving the apartment complex though, we figured stopping by the front office to see if she had moved wouldn't hurt.
When we walked in, I knew right then that something good was about to happen. We asked the receptionist if Sue had moved and she regretfully told us that she wasn't at liberty to release that sort of information. Dejected and depressed, we turned around to leave. Right then, the receptionist called after us, saying, "Wait a second. I think she might be here." She then promptly left the desk and went around the corner. We stood there, anxiously craning our necks to see if she'd return with Sue. Sure enough, the receptionist came around the corner, with Sue following closely behind. 
I began to cry, I was so overjoyed to see her. It had been almost two weeks since I had seen this wonderful woman. Almost two weeks of pure concern over her well-being. After talking with her, we found out that her ex took away everything from her that she had managed to salvage and was struggling just to keep the apartment. She said that she was still anxious to see us and that she definitely still wanted to be baptized. We set up another appointment and walked away after a brief discussion of what we could do for her. My heart had swelled and I felt like crying out from joy. We had seen Sue. Everything was going to be okay.
 After that momentous occasion, Sister Jones and I had to bolt off to make our appointment with Domonic. Yet, before we knocked on his door, we decided to stop in and see Sam. Sam was actually home and was really excited to see us. He had pulled a 180 from yesterday and was open and talking to us. He welcomed us warmly into his apartment and we began to talk more about the Book of Mormon. Sam had actually read it and prayed about it! But, when he conveyed his feelings towards it, that he thought came from the Spirit, our hearts were crushed. When he prayed, he said that he felt a strong negative feeling. Yet, he is still optimistic and has promised to continue praying. In addition, he also agreed to eventual baptism if he comes to know of the truthfulness of our message.
Once we finished up talking with Sam, we took off to talk to Domonic. He was so full of questions, it took both of us looking up scriptures constantly to answer all of his questions! Then, halfway through our discussion, his brother, Chris, chimed in and we started teaching him as well! It went very well - yet we weren't able to teach a cohesive lesson because there were just so many questions. Towards the end, they had both agreed to being baptized if they come to know of these truths, just like Sam! We walked away that day with three hopeful baptisms in the next month or so. 
Later that night, a member invited us over for dinner. There, I got to participate in my very first shrimp boil. Let me tell you, it's scarring. You take live shrimp, dump them in boiling water along with potatoes, corn, sausage, and seasoning and boiling the shrimp to death. Did you know shrimp scream? Yes, they scream. And then, after they've sufficiently simmered, you dump out the boil onto a table and feast. In order to eat the shrimp, you have to pluck off the legs, tear off the tail, stare into those dead eyes while ripping off the head, and mercilessly peel away the shell. And then you're expected to eat this poor sea creature. It's pretty traumatic. But, it actually doesn't taste that bad! Once you get over the fact that you heard them screaming not too long ago.
The week continued on as most do out here - countless hours of tracting with little success. The strongest testimony builder I had this week was on Friday when we had to go out and tract for miles. Right when we finished and got into the car, I felt sick to my stomach. I knew that I was kept well just so that Sister Jones and I could go out and do the Lord's work. Shortly after we arrived at a member's home, Sister Jones got sick as well. The Lord certainly provided for us - keeping us strong for the moments that He truly needed us.
Saturday was the apex of our week when we were given the chance to demolish the gym floor in the church building. First off, our church is disgusting. It has mold everywhere and smells strongly of mildew. When you walk in, you just feel... depressed. The baptismal font is broken and the water is basically mud. The gym floor has bumps all over it because of some pipes bursting a few years back. A few weeks previous, the Bishop finally got permission from Salt Lake City to replace our gym floor! So, all of us missionaries along with the ward members gathered together to tear out the floor. Do you know what sleeps under gym floors? I do. Cockroaches. A few mice. Countless bugs. And then there's pools of water and mold everywhere. I was so grateful to be tearing out the floor finally and cleaning it up.
The next two days were pretty uneventful. Yet, last night, as I was thinking, I realized people that we needed to get a hold of. I made a list in my planner, fully intending to call them this morning. As we began our daily scripture study, the phone rang. And then it rang again. And again. By the time we had finished our individual study, every single person I had listed the previous night had called us to schedule appointments. 
In just three months of serving the Lord, I have seen countless blessings every day. Never before have I had such a strong testimony of this Church. I know without a doubt in my heart that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church. It is God's kingdom here on Earth. Through it, I know that my family can be together forever and that we can be exalted. There's a common saying among Mormons, "A missionary is someone who leaves their family for a short while so that other families can be together forever." That is exactly what I'm doing now. And I love it. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

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